21-Tech

The 21-Tech initiative has allowed me as a Discovery Guide to push myself further on how much information I can process and share with each visitor I encounter.- Odis Garrett, Children’s Museum of Houston Discovery Guide
21-Tech is a bridge between our museum guides and the visitors in that it creates connections between educational concepts and the real world.- Shawn Waxali, Children’s Museum of Houston Discovery Guide
21-Tech has helped Discovery Guides engage visitors by extending their experience through the apps and applying it to the exhibits.- Ian Tibby, Children's Museum of Houston Discovery Guide
21-Tech is a way of ‘hiding the vegetables in the fruit’ where the kids do not realize they are learning, but instead having fun and being fed knowledge that intrigues their minds.- Lauren Bell, Children's Museum of Houston Discovery Guide
21-Tech provides a new outlet for our Discovery Guides to interact with the visitors in a way that further enhances their experience and makes the visit overall extra enjoyable.- Sylvia Garcia, Children's Museum of Houston Discovery Guide

21-Tech Testimonials by Facilitators

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Recently, at Children’s Museum of Houston, we’ve begun a process of archiving stories about great 21-Tech interactions which occur on the floor every day. Here are just few of those testimonials:

Lauren Bell, Discovery Guide:

“I recently used our iTranslate app to communicate with a little girl in French who was lost. She was crying in EcoStation looking for her parents and when I began to speak French with her using the app, she calmed down. I finally brought her to her parents who spoke a little English. The girl told her mom something in French, after which the mom reached out and gave me a big hug. She said the little girl told her, ‘If everyone in America is like her, then I want to move here!’ Turns out the family had been discussing moving to Houston, and the girl had been on the fence about the idea.”

Aldec Saniel, Discovery Guide:

“In Kidtropolis, there was a 10-year-old boy who looked bored. When I approached him, he said there was nothing there for him to do. I tried to explain the different jobs he could have, but he didn’t look interested. Suddenly, I had an idea to use the iPad. I told him that I needed his help at the Vet Clinic because there are many animals who need to be adopted, but nobody knows about them. I asked him to help me advertise to the visitors of Kidtroplis that there are lovable animals they can adopt. He began listening very closely. So, I gave him the iPad and told him that he could he use the camera app to take pictures of each animal. He had some very specific ideas. He didn’t want to take pictures of the animals in cages. He thought it would be better if the dog or cat was in someone’s arm. After reviewing which pictures were good enough to advertise, I asked if we could walk around Kidtropolis, with the pictures on the iPads, and inform visitors about pet adoption. We rehearsed what to say and how to approach the visitors. As we walked around Kidtropolis, countless visitors were interested in pet adoption! The boy was very happy, and I was glad to be able to help.”

Janavia Washington, Discvoery Guide:

“Recently, in Power Science Lab, one of the activities was “Eat this, not that”. During that, I took advantage of our Apple TV we recently installed. A family walked in, slowly observing the activity, but not really participating. So, I decided to help by introducing the activity and asked the children which snacks on the table were healthier for them to eat. The kids became slightly involved, and gave the right answer. So, I decided to engage them further by using the iPad, and I opened the ‘More Buffet’ app. Since they looked like foreigners, I asked the little girl to find her country of origin on the map. She quickly selected her country, India. Next, I asked her to create a healthy meal using foods from her country. As she selected each food, I tried to pronounce the name of the dish so I could learn it. I noticed that at this point, the grandmother and parents began to smile as they were pleased that I wanted to learn about their culture. Soon, the entire family became involved in a discussion about which foods were healthy and which ones weren’t. It was great to see an entire family become so excited by an activity in our lab.”

Shawn Waxali, Gallery Supervisor:

Last week, an owl happened to stop by Ecostation in broad daylight, and attracted the attention of many visitors. Shawn, who was nearby, was asked if he could help identify the species of the owl. Luckily, he had an iPad with him, and with the help of several kids (and the “iBirds Lite” app), he was able to determine that the owl was an Eastern Screech-Owl. He and the kids researched the behavior and appearance, and concluded that it was actually a gray morph of the Eastern Great Plains Owls. I’m so glad Shawn was able to take this rare sighting and turn it into a learning moment.

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Project Brief

21-Tech partners study and share the effective use of Personal Mobile Technologies (PMTs) by gallery facilitators in their work with visitors. The initial three years (2011-2013) of 21-Tech are funded in large part by a 21st Century Museum Professionals award from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The project is led by the Children’s Museum of Houston in partnership with Lawrence Hall of Science, New York Hall of Science, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, and Sciencenter. For more information, please visit the About page.

Major funding provided by:

Additional support provided by: